2013 – The End of the Beginning

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas & New Year’s letters. In fact, I can’t remember ever writing one, but as I was typing this I realized I had unintentionally written exactly that.  Something else I realized was that I needed to do this. I needed to revisit all the amazing things that have happened this year, not that I have forgotten, but I needed to go back and focus intently on them again. This past year has been the worst and the best in so many ways. This Christmas season in particular definitely did not make the favorites list.  Reflecting on the best of this past year has taken my mind off the disappointing, heartbreaking evils of this world. If we force ourselves to focus on the good things; even on the smallest seemingly unimportant things, we allow them to overshadow the bad. Right now I need an overshadowing of the bad, as I’m sure many of you do.
So I invite you to look back with me, to rejoice in the great, to let the far less than great fade away, to move on in hope for the New Year – a new chapter.

Before we go back, let me look forward a bit to what I have currently happening.
 - Online Store – My online store is up and running. You can purchase physical CDs, digital CDs, t-shirts, stickers, temporary tattoos, and signed album cover photos. Check it out.

 - Friday, January 10th at 4pm I will be on KOMO news here in Seattle. I will most likely be telling a little bit of my story and playing a song. This will hopefully be some good exposure.

 - Wednesday, January 15th  I will be playing at The Sunset Tavern in Ballard with a band.
I am opening for Colin Bradford, along with Hand in the Attic. Doors open at 8:30pm. Show starts at 9pm. Purchase tickets for only $6. Please help spread the word about this show for me. If I bring in a good crowd and do well, it will lead to bigger and better shows.

2013 – Reminisce with me – let’s start at the beginning…
This may look a bit long, but I promise it’s an easy read. :-) Are you with me till the end?

 - January 2013 – Through a friend, I got hooked up with a fabulous director from Seattle to film a music video for the pre-album acoustic recording of Run Free. We shot the video in 2 days here on Vashon. This was a first for me – first time in front of the camera…the sole subject…it was very weird, but SO much fun!

- February 2013 - Launched my Kickstarter campaign (along with my music video) to raise money for my debut album. This was a huge step of faith – very scary.

- March 2013 – First official interviews. I was interviewed by Working Mothers Revolution and Epic Victories about my story and my music career.

 - April 2013Kickstarter campaign successfully funded!! Final amount: $16,136. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Seeing how much everyone cared about this, complete strangers posting my link on facebook, receiving messages from people I didn’t know about how my music and story was touching their lives, knowing they were sitting, watching, and increasing pledges in the final hours, brought me to my knees in tears!! I knew going into this that it was a long shot. Even my producer thought I was crazy. I had many people tell me it wouldn’t happen, but I had peace through it all. I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing. I will never cease to be amazed over what WE accomplished, and how everyone pulled together to help me in so many ways.

 - April/May 2013 – In the studio!! 10 days at Five Acres Studio in British Columbia recording
Run Free was absolutely incredible! I actually started a blog to document my days recording. This was a first on so many levels. Considering I knew literally not a single thing about the music industry or any part of it until summer 2012, this was very overwhelming – in a great way. A cool fact I didn’t notice until just now – one year from the exact day (April 30th) I wrote Run Free, I began recording my album Run Free.

 - May 2013 – One year anniversary of performing – May 19th.  I began planning my album release party; little did I know it would take every waking (some sleeping) hour of every day for the next 4 months! I also performed in Seattle’s big local music festival Northwest Folklife.

 - June 2013 – Performed in my first singer-songwriter storyteller showcase. It was so great. I absolutely love playing with a band, and I prefer that most of the time, but there is such beauty in the simplicity of playing completely alone and getting to tell your song stories. The end of June brought one more visit to the studio and the completion of the album. Also my first practice with a band playing my songs!

 - July 2013 – Sent out digital albums to Kickstarter donors, lots of shows including a few big venues in Seattle, some festivals and private shows, and lots of planning and promoting.

 - August 2013 – Received my physical albums and other merchandise in the first week, then Augsut 16th – my release party!! The party was amazing! It was everything I hoped it would be. Wonderful friends & family worked together to put my many, many hours of hard work into action. I had a very difficult time believing this was all for something I had done, everyone was there for me. Who am I that all of this was happening??!! Another completely surreal experience to top my list of surreal experiences this year. I also played my first “real” rock show in Seattle at The Crocodile.

 - September/October 2013 – September and October were pretty rough months for me. I went through a very difficult time physically and mentally. Most days I could hardly get out of bed, and the days I was out I was barely functioning. I had zero energy and felt very out of control of everything in my life. One good thing in the end of October – I began meeting regularly with an artist coach who is helping keep me on track with my goals.

 - November/December 2013 – These months (although still incredibly tough) brought some very good things. I got my music on Playnetwork, who supplies music for airports, retail shops, businesses, etc. I got accepted to Pandora! This was a pretty big deal. I’m nearing the 8 week mark, which is when my music should be up. I got my first interview and album review with a music magazine Innocent Words. Even though I am not the kind of person who just loves to talk about myself, I do really love interviews. The interview should be out near the beginning of 2014. Here is a link to the awesome album review – Run Free is 3rd album from top. I made their top 10 favorites of 2013!

I am GRATEFUL for the most awesome fans! I am THANKFUL for blessings too many to count, and wonderful friends too many to count. I am completely HUMBLED by everyone who has played any part in getting my music “out there.” Thank you for reminiscing with me. I hope you enjoyed it.
So I know that you stuck with me through the letter, please respond with the name of your favorite song from my record :-)

As 2013 comes to a close, it marks the end of the beginning for me. Though sad in many ways to see this chapter come to an end, I have hope for 2014, and so should you. I pray 2014 is a great year for all of you! I hope there is much more joy and excitement in store for each of you. I wish for you to be blessed and encouraged in the ways you have done so for me.

Here’s to a New Year – a new chapter, a chance to write something fresh, to create a unique piece to the puzzle that is your story…

Cami Lundeen

Please take a moment to “like” my facebook page and follow me on twitter if you have not already. Thanks! www.facebook.com/camilundeen  http://twitter.com/camilundeen

THE FIRST SONG

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2013 – 10:34am

I’ve just received the mp3 for Run Free.
It’s been 2 weeks since I came home from from the
studio in Canada. Ryan has been working on this
for 2 weeks. I’ve been waiting patiently (sort of),
knowing that the longer he took, the better it
would be. I’m planning on releasing “Run Free”
as a single and re-releasing the video,
which is why this is the first song he worked on.

I’m sitting here with my phone in hand,
and earbuds plugged in, but I can’t bring myself
to play it. I’m TERRIFIED to listen to it!
I’m so nervous. This is an historical moment for
me – a defining moment. This will set the direction
for the whole record. It’s the first song to
be heard – After everything I’ve done, how hard
I’ve worked over the last year, this is what I
will have to show for it. I will never again have
this moment. I want to savor it. I’m a save the
best for last kind of person. I would probably
sit on this all day if I could, but given
other circumstances in my life right now,
I need to listen to it. I really need this
today of all days.

I’m on the edge of the unknown, trying to
anticipate what it will be like, and what I
will think and feel; but I have no idea.
I just have to take the plunge.

So off I go…

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

SUNDAY, MAY 19TH, 2013

One year ago today, May 19, 2012,
I made my public performance debut.
The Vashon Island Farmer’s Market was
my first official gig & it was paid!!

One year ago today was the first time
my songs were heard. One year is a
long time – yet it’s not that long at all.
It is unreal all that I have crammed into
the last 365 days, and to think that I just
finished recording my debut album after
only a year of performing!

A year ago someone took a chance on me –
allowed me play music (for entertainment)
in front of many people, who had no idea
who I was.

Reminiscing about the way I felt then,
I wonder what on earth possessed me
to think I could play in front of people – songs
that I wrote – something very new to me.
How did I think there was any way I could
do this? What made me think I was good
enough to make people care about what
I was doing and saying? Today it seems easy,
but I wasn’t where I am now a year ago,
so how did I have the courage to put myself
out there like that?

I had been leading music
at my church for two years at this point,
so I did have experience playing in front of
people, but not for entertainment purposes,
and not my own songs – totally different world.
I had been writing songs for a year now.
Shortly after I began writing, I made myself a
promise that I would play at the Strawberry
Festival the following year. The Strawberry
Festival is the big summer festival, in July,
on our island. It’s a pretty big deal – lots of people
come from off island for the music we have here.

I finally felt “ready” – that I had enough songs
for a good setlist, and an urge to share them –
so I started pursuing playing live shows –
with Strawberry festival being top of the list.

My husband contacted the main music booker
here on the island in January 2012. He sent him
some sound clips of my songs and boldly asked
if I could play at “The Roasterie”, a coffee
shop here on the island that has live music
sometimes. The booker took a long time to
reply. He was very reluctant – kind of put us
off (which I totally understand since he had
no knowledge of me). Didn’t look hopeful.
Erik is very protective of my feelings, and is
so worried about rejection that he was very
hesitant to reach out any more.

In the end of January I played a small house
concert in my parent’s home for a few friends
and family – just to see if I could do it.
This gave me enough confidence to be more
persistent. I decided to contact the booker
myself. After some waiting, (March) Mr. Booker
ended up giving me a few names of some
other contacts for events/venues to play
on the island – one of which was the contact
person for the farmer’s market. I emailed all
of the people he gave me info for, and heard
back from the market promptly that they
wanted me to play soon. I had already
gotten together some covers I thought would
be good to play, and began working hard to make
sure I could play everything really well.

I wasn’t really nervous about it. I was more
nervous about the unknown – and the sound
system – since I didn’t have much knowledge
of equipment last year. I was very excited
though! I knew the island booker would
probably stop by to hear me. I had a feeling
that he wanted the market to test me out – see
if I was any good before he booked me for
anything else. :)

On the day of the market show it was
absolutely beautiful! We got there and set up –
not too difficult. We played under a tent in
case of rain, of course! You could tell I was a little
nervous during the first song, but then I was fine.
It was so much fun to play for a crowd! I never
had any idea what it would be this great!
There were a lot of people. Some camped out
on the grass to listen, some stopped briefly on
their way around the market. I received an
overwhelmingly great response from all who
passed by. Mr. Booker did show up and listen
for a little while, and he posted a picture on
Facebook commenting that I played a great set!
I was now on his radar for playing Strawberry
Festival, which was only 2 months away!

IMG_3172

Last summer I played the market once more –
a month later, and then went on to play
Strawberry Festival, 2 others island festivals,
a couple house concerts, acquired a regular gig
at Nirvana (an island restaurant), as well as a
regular off-island gig, a church music & BBQ
event AND… “The Roasterie”!

This was a crucial part of my journey to
realizing who I was made to be.
I had written “Run Free” almost exactly
one month before the market performance.
Writing “Run Free” is what pushed me to
share my songs. I now had an overwhelming
sense of my purpose on this earth!

IN THE STUDIO – DAY 10

SUNDAY, MAY 12, 2013

Kids were up at 8am, of course. I showered and got
somewhat presentable before I met these relatives
(who live in this house) for the first time! They are
cousins to my husband’s father. Really wonderful
people. It was so great to finally meet them.

I kind of forgot it was Mother’s Day. Oops!
My children were so excited to give me the
beautiful cards they had made. They also had a gift
for me, which I wasn’t expecting. I figured my time
away in the studio was what I was getting this year.
They got me my first pair of Tom’s!
Yeah I’ve got the best kids!

After cards and gifts, we sat down to a lovely
breakfast, then spent the rest of the morning catching
up on each other’s lives, talking about music,
watching videos, reminiscing, etc. The kids were
occupied with the game system, and pool table in
their entertainment room.

A while later their daughter and son-in-law came
by with their 3 month old baby to meet us.
The son-in-law, Steve, also happens to be a
producer/studio owner, and is good friends with
Ryan. We hung out with them for awhile, ate some
lunch, then headed back to the studio – around
2:30pm – to finish up.

Crazy ton of people hanging out at the McAllister
residence! We are going to try to finish up quickly
and get out of their hair! Once again the kids ran
around and played while I finished background
vocals on “Not Be Afraid”. We also decided to get a
double of the vocals for each song, just in case Ryan
needed anything extra. So I sang through every song
twice – then Erik stepped in to play some cajon.
Ryan has given him the nickname “Sugar Beats”.
From now on, Erik demands to be referred to
only by this name!

Erik Tracking Cajon
Erik Studio Edited 2

Erik Studio Edited 3

I’m going to have acoustic versions of 4 songs to
have as representation for my live sound without
a full band. Erik tracked cajon for “Eyes of a Child”
and “March On”. We already have the acoustic
versions of “Run Free” and “The Rainbow” so we
just needed these two.
Then…

It…is…finished…done…finito…the end…over…
We invited Erik, his mom, and Ryan’s wife Amanda in
to listen to 3 of the songs. Everyone sat in awe…

Time to pack up. The kids were soaked because
it had been raining and they were jumping on the
trampoline, and not caring one bit. It took forever
to get everyone cleaned up, loaded up, and goodbyes
said. Everyone was falling apart – including me!

We pulled out sometime around 6pm.
We grabbed some quick dinner shortly after
crossing back into the US. Made the 9:40pm
ferry home. Erik’s mom leaves in the morning,
and it’s back to real life. This is going to be very
difficult. I think this will be the toughest re-entry
for me. It’s going to take a while!

Although I am so sad this part of the journey has
come to a close, I am immensely grateful that I
even had the chance for this opportunity.
This is truly a dream come true, and I would not be
doing this with out the love and support of my
family, friends, fans, and Kickstarter donors.

Onto the next stage…

IN THE STUDIO – DAY 9

SATURDAY, MAY 11th, 2013

I had a bacon/tomato sourdough English muffin
sandwich for breakfast (I can have sourdough).
I’ve had the same thing every day for breakfast
this week! So has Ryan – Kind of a funny story…

Tuesday, before my family left, I sent Erik to
the store to get bacon for me – something I can
actually eat for breakfast. I know, sounds odd that
I can eat bacon. I don’t eat it that often, and when
I do, it’s uncured, preservative free bacon. I have to
have some kind of protein for breakfast – no eggs,
no bread, nothing sugary – that eliminates every
breakfast food. If I am home I come up with other
things to eat, but being away, I needed something
easy. Somehow there was a miscommunication and
Erik came back with NO bacon at all! I was just a
teeny bit upset about this, which is why Ryan came
back with a huge Costco pack of bacon the next day!
We have made a package of bacon every morning
this week! Just a little something to add the experience
here. We finished off the last package of bacon this
morning. Sadly, my bacon trip has come to an end,
but it was wonderful while it lasted!

The goal for today is to finish up all the background
vocals – which is ALL we have left! I’m beginning to
feel pretty sad that this is almost over. This week has
been truly incredible. I will never again make my
debut album, and I’m having a difficult time with that
fact – it’s got me a bit weepy! My family is coming this
evening. Once they arrive – this all comes to an end -
so I’m relishing the remaining moments.

We started around 10am again. We tracked backgrounds
for “Clouded Eyes”, “Life Changes You”, and
“No Going Back”. Great stuff on these!

In between songs we would discuss what’s next,
and talk about more serious matters of where I go
from here. It’s very helpful to have someone like Ryan
to talk to about this – makes me feel a little less lost.

As we were nearing the end, Ryan took a break,
because he had some family arriving, and a few things
to take care of. He has 7 brothers. They are all married,
with kids, live nearby, and come over every weekend –
always a big party. This was a great time for me to sit
alone at the desk in the control room and take everything
in – reflect on the last two weeks and everything that
has happened – which, of course, ended in tears.
I don’t know why I am such a sappy crybaby! I feel
everything so deeply, and I get very attached to people
and experiences. I’m done trying to explain it away
though, I’ve accepted that this is who I am, and this part
of me can and will be used for good.

Ryan finished with whatever the heck he was doing,
and we started again. About 7:45pm we were in the
middle of wrapping up “Not Be Afraid” – the very
last song, when my family arrived. And just like that…
my beautiful bubble began to deflate.
I did everything I could to make it happen slowly.

We took a break to say hi, hug everyone, and have
some dinner. After we ate and hung out for a bit,
Erik and his mom (who came up with my family)
took the kids to the house we are staying at tonight.
We found out we have some relatives in Abbotsford
who also know Ryan. Small world! They invited us to
stay with them while I was up recording, so we decided
tonight would be the night. While Erik took the kids,
I stayed back to finish the last song, and he would be
back to get me.

We had EVERY intention of going back into the studio,
but there was wine, and beer, and Vodka from
Seattle Distilling Company (if you’ve tried it you’ll
understand, if not, go get some) and food, and fun
people. And we worked so hard this week.
SOMEHOW we never made it back out. We ended
up sitting at the McAllister’s dining room table with
Ryan’s wife, and his brother and sister-in-law
partying the night away…until someone’s child woke
up crying… and it was all over.

I was hoping to have a wrap party tonight with all the
musicians who played on my record, but none of them
could make it. This ended up being a perfect wrap to
the day anyway! I’m thankful that I had this night to
top things off.

2am we headed to the house where the rest of
our family was sleeping soundly. After feeling our
way around an unfamiliar house in the dark, we fell
into bed.

IN THE STUDIO – DAY 8

FRIDAY, MAY 9th, 2013

Showered, ate breakfast, and now Jon is here again to
rock out the rest of these tunes. Today we have 4 songs
to track on electric guitar, and then we will be adding
organ/wurly/piano to some of them.

I have a pretty tough job here. I get to chill on this
big, comfy, leather couch (sometimes I move to a
chair, or the organ bench if I’m looking for a
different view), listen to magic in the making, take
pictures and videos, say whether or not I like what
I’m hearing, while Jon works his butt off and Ryan
“kind of” directs him. It sounds pretty lazy, but it’s
actually mentally tiring – in a good way.

After listening to other musicians’ takes on my songs,
I’ve finally come up with the perfect genre –
“Alternative blues roots folk funk pop”.
That about sums it up!
I knew bluesy-ness was in there, but never realized
how much a part of my style it was until having a
band play my songs. Really hearing the true, full
potential of what I’ve written is satisfying to an
inexplicable degree.

I feel very out of my element at times with these
guys. I didn’t grow up around all of this stuff like
most musicians and songwriters. So much of
what they say goes over my head, but I’m learning
a lot! It’s fascinating to see what kind of effects
Jon tries. He’s made some new pedal friends
through this. Ryan had some spectacular gear
that he hasn’t actually used, laying around from
his days with his band Dakona. There was lots of
very entertaining pedal/effects discussion that was
beyond my knowledge.

We worked on “Eyes of a Child” first today.
There are some pretty excellent solo parts in this one.
There is a lot of room for playing around.
“Clouded Eyes” was up next. Jon really completed the
groove on this one. We took a lunch break then moved
onto “Not Be Afraid”. We threw in so many crazy parts.
It’s a big mess right now, but it’s going to be awesome.
Ryan has a great vision for where we want it to go,
he just has a lot of work to do to get it there!
Onto the final song – “Life Changes You”.
This song has more of a rock feel, so Jon wanted to
throw in a great rock solo. I thought everything he was
trying sounded so awesome, but he wasn’t quite
getting the sound he was hoping for, so he played
around with it for awhile until he was satisfied, which
was a lot of fun to watch and hear!

Jon on Electric
Jon Electric
I Didn’t Even Know What This Was!
Jon Pedal Steel

When Jon finished with guitar, he tracked organ on
five songs, and piano on two. You could tell he was
nearing the end of being able to function! After two,
back to back, 8 ½ hour days of seriously intense musical
composition, I think Jon was thoroughly wiped out!
It’s astounding that he got all 10 songs completed in
2 days; and not just parts that are ok, but unique and
creative hooks and riffs that will set this record apart.

Dinner then background vocals!

For some reason I think background vocals are the
most fun. I love every part of this process, but there’s
(maybe?) a freedom in the BGV’s that I don’t feel
during lead vocals. There is less pressure to sing perfectly,
(of course I still do) and you can just be ridiculous with
ideas – try crazy things, which Ryan is excellent at.
He likes to challenge my ability! I do welcome the
challenge – for the most part.

We made it through 3 songs before ending at 1:30am -
“Eyes of a Child”, “Not Who You Said You Were”,
and “So Long Insecurity”. We had way too much
fun with this. I do believe I laughed more tonight than
I have in the last 10 years! I’ve realized that I get very
giggly when I’m super excited, or maybe it’s just this
particular situation – a mix of intense excitement
and nerves. I find everything to be extremely hilarious,
and Ryan happens to be one of the funniest people
I’ve met. Then throw in being very tired on top of
that = bad combination. I feel ridiculous and stupid for
laughing so much, but I am going to love every second
of it and not care. We did get some great stuff in spite
of my uncontrollable laughter, and I was not the only
one laughing uncontrollably!

IN THE STUDIO – DAY 7

THURSDAY, MAY 9th, 2013

I’m feeling a little funny this morning.
I’m having a difficult time processing where I am, and
what I am doing! It’s so overwhelming – in a good way -
it’s great and awesome, but some of my songs are pretty
difficult emotionally to sing over and over. So I got up
this morning and sat in a chair, in the sun, for about
an hour, hoping to refresh my mind and spirit so that
I can enjoy this day to the fullest!!

Enough of that crap – time to ROCK!!

10:00am Jonathan Anderson showed up to play electric
guitar. He brought 5 guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, banjo,
and a whole ton of pedals and gear that I don’t have the
first clue with what you would do. Little did I know all the
tricks he had in his bag…

Messing Around
Ryan & Jon

Once again, here is a musician who has never met me,
has never heard any of my songs, and is going to be
creating parts for 10 songs, in 2 days. We are hoping to
track about half of the songs today.
Pretty ambitious…we’ll see…

We started with “March On”. Ryan wanted to go for a
“T-Bone Burnett” sound on this one. Jon added 2 electric
guitar tracks (with different guitars, of course), lap steel,
and a little bit of banjo – just for fun. I’m not sure if we
will use all of them in the final mix, but we’ll record
any ideas just in case – even if they seem totally whacky!

Jon on Lap Steel
John Lap Steel

Jon on Banjo
Jon Banjo

I have no words to describe his talent. I’m sitting here,
listening, unable to process what is even happening!
The music cuts right through to the deepest part of
me – intensely moving – which is exactly my goal!

It’s a difficult thing – letting someone else take
over something you have worked so hard on – to let them
put their spin on a piece of your heart. It’s hard to let go
and trust that they will create something that is “you” –
that fits with what you are trying to portray. I have
nothing to worry about here. He’s nailing it!
My mind is blown!

We worked on “No Going Back” before taking
a lunch break. Some pretty awesome stuff in this one
too – a really cool hook in the chorus.

After lunch we worked on “Not Who You Said You Were”,
“The Rainbow”, “Run Free”, and “So Long Insecurity”.
Everything he came up with was so incredible. I’m
running out of words to describe how awesome this is!

Some highlights on each of these songs:

“Not Who You Said You Were” has a great little
riff in this special part – a second part of the chorus.
It’s the climax of the song. Jon definitely added to the
50’s sound, but in a very modern way.

“The Rainbow” was already pretty powerful and intense.
Jon added some parts that built the intensity – which is
what I wanted. It’s very moving. I love it!

If you liked “Run Free” before – you will be blown
away by it now. Don’t worry – we didn’t change the
song – we just took it to a whole new level of amazing.
I can’t listen to it without an enormous, uncontrollable
smile on my face. When Jon first listened to it, we
weren’t sure where we would even go with it, because
it’s pretty full already; but he managed to come up
with something perfect.

“So Long Insecurity” has a full-on blues solo.
It is SO COOL! That was a lot of fun to watch.
He played through it a few times and it was different
every time.

By 6:30pm we had completed electric guitar tracking
for 6 songs – more than half! Yay! Jon headed home.

I am seriously dumbfounded by his ability to come up
with something incredible, for a song he’s never heard,
in a matter of minutes. Some extremely magical musical
moments today! I am so very happy with how all of the
songs are turning out.

We had dinner after Jon left; then we were supposed to
start some background vocals. At about 9, after some
discussion on songs, Ryan put a song on for me to practice
harmony, went in to put his son to bed, and never came
back. Well… he eventually came back…about an hour
later…after he woke up and realized he’d fallen asleep
and left me! I figured that’s what had happened.
We called it a night – earliest night by far. Of course I
didn’t go to sleep right away. I stayed up writing this,
and now I’m going to fall asleep working on vocal
harmony for the 7 songs I don’t have perfected.

Tomorrow Jon is coming back to finish electric guitar on
the rest of the songs, as well as organ and piano.
It was a fantastic day! Very productive, very exciting!